Alberta Update - Public Health Orders & Upcoming OHS Changes
Public Health Orders
Alberta has released new public health orders that came into effect on September 4th at 8:00 am in response to rising case numbers and hospitalizations.
Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces and workplaces.
Restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, nightclubs, and other licensed venues must stop serving alcohol by 10 p.m.
Employers are recommended to continue work-from-home measures where possible and to pause or revert plans to have staff return to the workplace
Unvaccinated Albertans are strongly recommended to limit indoor social gatherings to close contacts of only two cohort families, up to a maximum of 10 people.
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OHS Act Changes to Expect
Last year Alberta passed a Bill called The Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, 2020 in order to simplify language, remove duplicate language and provide clearer direction for employers and workers to follow.
The government has said these will take effect upon proclamation with an expectation that this will be sometime in September 2021. Although we are still waiting for official notice here is a summary of the proposed changes:
Health & Safety Committees
The calculation of the number of workers to determine if a workplace requires a committee is simplified to "regularly employed employees". This will allow employers to use a more accurate number based on normal conditions in the workplace.
In addition, any worksites with multiple employers will not be required to have a joint committee on site. The Prime Contractor, or lead employer, will need to provide a point of contact to coordinate health and safety issues between employers.
Health and Safety Program Requirements
Employers with 20 or more workers will still be required to have a written health and safety program, though the mandatory elements will be removed. There will be guidelines to follow, provided by the government, allowing the employer to have the flexibility to develop programs that best suit their workplace.
The sections that will have changed the language for easier comprehension are in regards to serious injury reporting, and disciplinary action complaints. More information will be provided on this once the official version is released.
The rules around dangerous work refusals will also receive new definitions to provide clarity on what is an appropriate work refusal situation, this will include a simpler, more streamlined process to follow.
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